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My Top 10 Albums of 2008

December 23, 2008
Only 8 days left to wear these!

Only 8 days left to wear these!

I know, I know, dear readers. You’ve been so very patient these past 24 hours waiting for this, and I appreciate it. Well, now you can stop sending me hate emails, and feast your eyes and ears on this cornucopia of musical goodness. Just in time for Christmas Eve.

Did you know making year-end lists is hard? I really hadn’t counted on there being so much writing involved in blogging. I thought it was all about writing funny things over people’s faces in MS Paint. Dagg, yo. Anyway, I wrote many many words, and I hope you read at least one out of every 5. That’s really what I’m going for.

Catch the list after the break.

  • 10) MGMT – Oracular Spectacular: Technically a 2007 release, I’m including this because the physical release was 2008. And because I don’t care to split hairs. I liked this album a lot, but not as much as some people (deep, right?). Mainly, I was turned off by the album art. What the hell, guys? Do you think you’re cooler than me? I can paint my face, too. Anyway, there are some sweet tracks on here, which have inspired some even sweeter remixes. Check em both out.

MGMT – Electric Feel

  • 9) Esau Mwamwaya – The Very Best Mixtape: I do a lot of reading the internets for music. Presumably, you do too, unless you’re my dad, in which case, Hi, Father. Anyway, in September, the entirety of the information superhighway was blowing up with news of this dude, Esau Mwamwaya (pronounce his name just by reading it so fast that noone can tell the difference). He was totally bringing afro-pop into the world-wide-web generation, man. He sang Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa! Totes out-Africa’d Vampy Weekend! And then he released this super-sweet mixtape for free, and I was all like, dang, bro, this is sum hawt shitt. You’ll prolly be like that, too.

Esau Mwamwaya – Funa Funa

  • 8 ) Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours: The word “Colours” snagged me, although this album has the dubious distinction of being the only one on this list I purchased at Pitchfork’s recommendation. To be fair, I bought it because I was going to Pitchforkfest (which I cannot recommend highly enough), and they were one of the bands on the lineup I hadn’t heard of. I was not disappointed. My major criticism of Pitchfork is their love for music more cacophonic than melodic. Cut Copy is none of that. If anything, they err on the side of Eurotrash pop beats, which is fine by me. All in all, this is an album which delivers the jams without compromising intelligence.

Cut Copy – Feel the Love

  • 7) She & Him – Volume One: Zooey Deschanel is a mystery to me. Mainly because I have no idea how to pronounce her name. I’ve been told it’s supposed to be like Zoe, but I will continue to call her “Zoo-ee” until she personally corrects me. I find that exoticism makes her all the more attractive. She has one of those instantly recognizable voices, and the songs on Volume One could have been written forty years ago. And I mean that in the best way possible. She’s a cutey patootie. I’m waiting for Volume Two.

She & Him – This is Not a Test

  • 6) Okkervil River – The Stand Ins: I had a poster of the cover art from The Stage Names up on my wall last year, and I told my roommate at the time that I thought it would be hard to find creepier album art. Then Okkervil River stepped it up, to make something even more disturbing. Then put them together. Yummy. This was completely a sequel to The Stage Names, which was, at one point, going to be a double album. Stage Names was probably my favorite album of 2007, so I was understandably very excited about Stand Ins, and it really didn’t disappoint. It didn’t have as many amazing individual songs as Stage Names, but it flows perfectly and makes me all the more excited about the prospect of new Okkervil material. Of course, now if they don’t release another album in 12 months I’ll probably be disappointed.

Okkervil River – Bruce Wayne Campbell on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979

  • 5) E-603 – Something for Everyone: If Girl Talk and Diplo had a lovechild, I would be very confused. But I’d be a lot more interested if, instead of Girl Talk, E-603 and Diplo had a lovechild. Because I think E-603 is legitimately better than Girl Talk. And not just because he looks like this or dresses like this, or writes things like this. Having seen both perform this year, I can say that E-603 puts on a better show. Period. Whereas Girl Talk plays through his hits, prolonging some samples and occasionally venturing into new material for a few seconds, E-603’s show is completely different every time. I kept looking for my favorite samples from the album, and being impressed and surprised when the ones I heard were even better. His debut album is all the mash-up I need. And it’s available for free on his website. Download it now.

E-603 – Crystal Friend

  • 4) Santogold – S/T: If I said this was due to my embarrassing affection for Gossip Girl, I wouldn’t be giving Santi enough credit. But I can’t say it didn’t help. If you’ve never heard the blood-curdling “Ah-ah-ah-ahhh”s of “Creator,” you’re missing out. I’m not afraid to say I like Santogold more than M.I.A., and her collaborations have been sick. Though I have too much of a conscience to post her album (you should buy it. Now.), she did release a mixtape with Diplo, one of my favorite DJs of the year, which is nasty (and an honorable mention on this list). Catch it.

Santogold – Creator

  • 3) TV on the Radio – Dear Science: 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain has been one of my favorite albums of the past couple years. It showed TV on the Radio’s stepping in stride, perfecting their formula for hard-hitting electro-rock. I would have been all right with a straight sequel to that (a la The Stand Ins), but Tunde and the boys rocked my world with a deep and troubled album that still rocks. I feel it’s hard to write about it in a way that gives it enough credit. Just listen.

TV on the Radio – Halfway Home

  • 2) Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP/ S/T LP: Pitchfork packaged this as their number one, the LP I bought came with the EP in it, and both were released in ’08. I’ll follow Subpop’s lead and do the same. Enough has probably been written about Fleet Foxes, but I’ll say this: the album continued to surprise me. It stood the test of time, of overplay, of overblogging, and still came out a surprisingly strong effort. I’m a big fan of indie-folk, and this seems to be the perfection of it. The most amazing thing about Fleet Foxes to me is how note-for-note they could replicate their harmonies live. Listening to them, you’d assume that overdub after overdub had gone into the recording, but those chords in White Winter Hymnal really just are a few guys singing together. Beautiful.

Fleet Foxes – Drops in the River (From the Sun Giant EP)

  • 1) Vampire Weekend – S/T: It’s a little disappointing to me how quickly the tide of public approval can turn against an artist. Overexposure really is deadly (and I suppose I’m not doing much to remedy that..), and Vampire Weekend suffered more than any other band in 2008. They deserved all of the hype, though. They brought simple youthful joy to music for upper-middle-class hipster kids. They exposed the too-cool-for-school to pure, unadulterated fun. And that’s no easy task – I saw them in concert in July, and, during “A-Punk,” they attempted to get audience participation in the form of a few well-placed “ohs.” Ezra Koenig, before teaching us, looked out at the audience (which had been standing still for the entirety of the 4 songs leading up to the moment) and asked, “do you guys do this? Are you into this?” Not really, but Vampire Weekend helped them try.

Vampire Weekend – M79

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2008 1:40 am

    Homie, your TV on the radio thingy doesn’t work.

  2. Edward permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:53 am

    Fixed.

  3. Victoria permalink
    March 30, 2009 8:07 pm

    I love this [: I agree ninety-nine percent. TVOTR is so ace, I greedily await their next album… Same for Vampire Weekend, they’re such a talented bunch! I saw them last February, it was excellent.

    I’m so glad to stumble onto your site! bookmarkeddd.

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